Melanie is a guest blogger for the DietsInReview.com special series on Healthy Summer Kids. Melanie Berezan, aka Crazy Legs, is co-founder of GirlGetStrong.com. A restless writer, entrepreneur, traveler, and a bit of a weird wife (sorry honey!). Slightly insane mum of four cool little people who are either angels or monsters depending on the day’s medication. Proud owner of 10 terribly twisted and calloused running toes, and most of all an avid fan of fun!
Summer brings with it all sorts of great fresh produce. But what do you do when you have a hard time getting your children to eat their summer veggies? Here’s a fun idea that worked like a charm on my children, who range in age from four to ten years old. We threw a “food tasting party”.
A food tasting party works like this:
1. Announce with great fanfare that you are throwing a super-cool party and you need the kids’ help planning it;
2. Tell them that it’s going to be a special “taste test party”, with some great new foods (insert veggie names here); make sure you are honest about the foods you will be serving, but make it sound like the fun adventure it is going to be;
3. If (or when!) the kids express suspicion or dismay, encourage them by telling them that you will be cleansing their palate in between tastings with… (pick your not-too-sweet treat and insert it here) and explain that a “tasting” means only one bite.
4. The keys are: the festive atmosphere, getting the kids involved with the planning, and the presentation of foods in a party style.
Gather four new foods you’d like your children to try. Think about how to present them in a fun way; can you use cookie cutters to make fun shapes? Or can you arrange them in a funny face on the plate? Do your children love sauces? Ketchup? Even if a vegetable (or fruit!) would not normally be served with a condiment, does it really matter? The point is to get the kids to try it… if that means lettuce dipped in a bit of ketchup do we really care? All we really want from the tasting party is for the kids to have fun and to learn to be open to trying new food.
Getting the children to buy into the process early is important. Ask the kids to help prepare the foods and set out the palate-cleansing treats (tip: don’t pick a treat that is too sweet – it just makes vegetables seem more sour. Instead, try something neutral, like a favorite cracker, animal cookies or another plain food).
Make sure you participate in the tasting, too. Tell them that after they each have a taste, they can put a blindfold on you and feed you a surprise bite. If your children decide to dip your lettuce in ketchup, make a big deal of what a unique flavor it is – and how wonderful it is to try new things, even if we decide after that we don’t like them.
We’ve thrown tasting parties several times. Do our kids now love all vegetables? Not at all, but they are remarkably willing to try new foods – both at home and out. And that’s a great step!
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